Partners, Beneficiaries, Associates and Friends,
As we approach the end of another business year, we naturally look back on the twelve months in reflection. I’m incredibly proud that 2019 has been a year of significant progress in our commitment to supporting Armed Forces entrepreneurs and, furthermore, a year in which I’ve reached goals aligned to my personal convictions and passion.
X-Forces Enterprise and the individuals we support are thriving, and I’d like to highlight some key developments of 2019…
This summer we celebrated passing the milestone number of 1500 business owners from the Armed Forces community that we have supported. After only launching X-Forces Enterprise in 2013, you can imagine I felt overwhelmed to consider the positive impact that enterprise has had on all those individuals, their families and the communities in which they operate.
By the end of this week, our numbers will have swelled to over 1850 entrepreneurs and, what’s more, the total funding we have facilitated through the Start Up Loans Company will exceed £17.6m. Hundreds of training days and mentoring appointments have been provided too. 2019 will have been our busiest year yet.
Every one of those individuals is welcomed into the XFE family, which encompasses our charity, corporate and government partners. Because of their commitment, the breadth of support we can provide is stronger and wider than ever, and I remain humbly grateful to all our partners.
When XFE turned six years old in September, it felt important to mark that achievement through the words of our beneficiaries. We are privileged to be on the journey with each one of them. Everyday we hear their challenges and triumphs, so we wanted to give these individuals a platform to share their stories and the podcast series was born.
The sixth anniversary also posed an opportunity to reflect on my own enterprise journey. Inspired by the candour of the beneficiaries, I found strength to discuss difficult periods of my life and consider how they influenced my passion for enterprise.
It was a great honour to have our Patron, the Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham CH, to contribute his fascinating story and reveal the values and ethos behind XFE.
The podcasts and vlogs offer truly inspirational and insightful content and are doing rather well in the charts too! I highly recommend listening to these during some downtime this Christmas.
During the first half of 2019 my pursuit to introduce young people to enterprise came much closer.
17 pioneering Army cadets from around the UK attended the inaugural XFE Enterprise For Life® Cadets Programme weekend in March and, in July, they attended the London Stock Exchange to be recognised for their achievements. The weekend course was a joy to be part of; their enthusiasm was boundless and I could see enterprise concepts come alive in them.
The pilot programme was hailed a great success by all involved and the next course was quickly planned to take place in Feb 2020.
The Military In Business® Network launched in 2019, with the aim to connect military business owners on a regional level, and is being brought to life by the beneficiaries themselves, with steer from 16 appointed Ambassadors.
The groups connect in regular events as well as in digital groups and the peer support and knowledge-sharing benefits are already being felt, not to mention positive connections for business being made. We appreciate the support of TRBL to establish this network.
> Business owners and our partner organisations are warmly invited to join their regional group – drop us an email on email@example.com to be introduced.
I am so delighted that we have developed a special relationship with The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), a passionate supporter of the Armed Forces in business; indeed their founder was a Forces veteran himself.
As the leading organisation in the UK for enterprise in the military community, XFE is working hard with FSB towards a host of benefits for our scaling businesses in their next stage of growth, from regular knowledge exchange to joint events and a bespoke membership package.
Watch this space for some news coming your way in March 2020!
It feels such a fitting way to mark the 10th anniversary of the Soldiering On Awards to be able to announce a record number of nominations were received across all categories!
The two rounds of independent judging is now complete. Our amazing panel of judges, led by Co-Chairs General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL and Debra Allcock-Tyler, CEO the Directory of Social Change, have truly had an incredibly difficult task. The nominations received were of such a high standard, meriting much debate before eventually arriving at the Finalists for each category. My thanks go to each and every judge for their time and dedication to this important task; the hardest part of all!
> 2020 Soldiering On Judging Panel
I know I speak on behalf of all involved when I say we are humbled to be in a position to recognise so many outstanding people who, between them, represent the wide Armed Forces community.
Look out for the finalist’s announcement on 13th January 2020.
> Secure your place to be with us on Awards night, 24th April 2020, when we honour the Finalists and announce overall winners.
May I thank you for being part of this incredible year and wish you a peaceful break this Christmastide.
I am looking forward to some special time with my grandsons – here I am proudly holding the newest member of the family who was born on the very day that the North and Midlands Ambassadors were going though orientation. Needless to say they heard the news and saw the pictures first!
2020, here we come…
Warmest wishes as ever